Brest (Finistère)

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Brest coat of arms
Brest (France)
region Brittany
Department Finistère
Arrondissement Brest ( sub-prefecture )
Canton Capital of 5 cantons
Community association Brest metropolis
Coordinates 48 ° 23 ′  N , 4 ° 29 ′  W Coordinates: 48 ° 23 ′  N , 4 ° 29 ′  W
height 0-103 m
surface 49.51 km 2
Residents 140,064 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 2,829 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 29200
INSEE code

View from the Brest Fortress to the lift bridge

Template: Infobox municipality in France / maintenance / different coat of arms in Wikidata

Brest is a French port city in Brittany with 140,064 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017). It belongs to the Finistère department . Due to its sheltered location on the Bay of Brest (French: Rade de Brest ), a deeply inland bay of the Atlantic , as well as the natural harbor in the area of ​​the mouth of the Penfeld River , Brest has been an important naval port in France for centuries. Brest, also known as the “Cité du Ponant”, is still the base of the French Atlantic fleet and an important trading port.

As the largest city in western Brittany, Brest is an important industrial and commercial center. The westernmost city in France is the seat of the Université de Bretagne Occidentale (German University of West Brittany) as well as other universities and research institutes.


Brest's climate is a temperate maritime climate influenced by the Gulf Stream . Characteristic for this climate are cool summers and mild winters. Frost rarely occurs, but wind almost constantly. The city belongs to a climate zone of the type Cfb (according to Köppen and Geiger ): warm, moderate rainy climate (C), fully humid (f), warmest month below 22 ° C, at least four months above 10 ° C (b).

The annual average temperature is 10.8 ° C; the coldest month is February with 6.2 ° C, the warmest with 16.0 ° C August. The annual rainfall is 1085 mm; the driest is in July with 46 mm, the highest amount of precipitation falls in December with 137 mm.

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Brest
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 8.7 8.9 10.5 12.4 15.1 18.0 20.1 20.0 18.5 15.5 11.6 9.7 O 14.1
Min. Temperature (° C) 3.9 3.8 4.5 5.7 8.1 10.5 12.4 12.6 11.5 9.4 6.2 4.9 O 7.8
Precipitation ( mm ) 136 106 104 70 73 51 46 59 79 106 118 137 Σ 1,085
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 2.1 3.1 4.1 5.8 6.8 7.2 7.3 6.7 5.6 4.0 2.7 2.0 O 4.8
Rainy days ( d ) 18th 15th 16 11 11 9 8th 9 10 13 15th 16 Σ 151
Water temperature (° C) 10 10 10 10 12 14th 15th 16 15th 14th 13 11 O 12.5
Humidity ( % ) 86 84 82 81 81 83 83 83 85 86 85 86 O 83.8
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Plan of Brest (1764)
Brest Arsenal (1855)
Site plan of Brest around 1904
The 1948 reconstruction plan that is still relevant today

At the place of today's Brest there was a fortified base from the end of the 3rd century during the Roman times , which served the coastal protection and was called Gesocribate . In the 5th century British tribes immigrated from England, after whom the country was named Brittany. Later a fort was built here against the attacks of the Normans . With Brittany, Brest came under the suzerainty of the English in the 12th century, but in 1202 it came back under French suzerainty.

With the beginning of modern times, the city experienced an upswing due to overseas trade. In 1593 Brest was granted city rights by King Henry IV . In 1631 Cardinal Richelieu made Brest a military port and had the naval arsenal built there for the Flotte du Ponant . In 1683 the complex was expanded into a fortress by Vauban . On June 18, 1686, a delegation from Siam arrived here and traveled on to King Louis XIV in Versailles, an event that is still remembered today by the name of the city's main street, Rue de Siam. In 1749 the Brest " Bagno " (penitentiary) was set up, a labor camp on the site of the Naval Arsenal. It could hold up to 3700 convicts and existed until 1858. The main building of the Bagno, built in 1750/51 by the builder Choquet de Lindu , with a facade of 254 m in length, was one of the characteristic buildings of old Brest before the Second World War. The inmates made up around 10% of the city's population and played a major role in Brest's life. In addition to shipbuilding work, the prisoners also carried out earthworks in the harbor basin and on the canal from Nantes to Brest . In 1752 a naval academy was established in Brest. The naval arsenal was also known for its powerful cannon, which announced the opening and closing of the arsenal area every day - from which the French phrase tonnerre de Brest (something like: mighty thunderstorm) is derived.

In 1789 the people of Brest were initially enthusiastic about the French Revolution . However, her sympathies were increasingly directed towards the Girondins and a federal state structure, which brought her the displeasure of the Jacobins , who sent 70 citizens under the guillotine. After the fall of Robespierre, the city was again administered by Girondists. However, the port soon lost its importance due to the continental blockade, trade lay idle and an economic crisis was the result, which set the city back. Under Napoleon , the construction of the navigable Canal de Nantes à Brest , with which the sea blockade should be bypassed, began. With the industrialization one found connection to the economic development, for example through the construction of the bridge over the Penfeld in 1856 or the construction of the Brest train station in 1865; the city was then 18 hours by train from Paris. The prison was abandoned in 1858, instead the inmates were shipped from Bordeaux directly to convict islands overseas.

During the First World War , Brest was an important supply port for US troops in Europe in 1917/1918 . In the post-war period, the port was constantly expanded, and in 1930 the Plougastel facilities were added. During the Second World War , the German Wehrmacht took Brest on June 19, 1940 and made it one of the most important bases on the Atlantic Wall , where the 1st U-Flotilla and a naval hospital were also stationed. In 1941/1942 the two battleships of the Scharnhorst class and the cruiser Prinz Eugen were also moored here . A maritime emergency squadron was also set up in Brest . To protect the submarines , a submarine bunker was built right in front of the former Ecole Navale , the building of which now served as the headquarters of the submarine flotilla , which was 192 m wide, 333 m long and 17 m high. The slab thickness was 6.20 m.

In January 1944, Hitler named all important port cities in the west - including Brest - as " fortresses ", which was primarily symbolic. In the OKW orders of February 1944 for the defense of fortresses, it was ordered to fight “to the last man” and not to surrender under any circumstances. After landing in Normandy , Brest was besieged by the Allies for 43 days in the Battle of Brittany (making it one of the longest-besieged places) before the commander Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke surrendered.

The city was badly damaged by the fighting and bombing of the Allies and had to be rebuilt from scratch according to the plans of Jean-Baptiste Mathon . In 1961, the reconstruction was essentially complete. Since little was left of the historical structure, Brest today gives the impression of a largely faceless planned city with concrete buildings. Economically one also had to reorientate, since the importance as a naval port declined; instead, the service sector and modern industries as well as marine research experienced an upswing. The establishment of the Université de Bretagne Occidentale in 1960 also contributed to its importance as an educational center .

Population development

year 1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006 2016
Residents 136.104 154.023 166,826 156.060 147,956 149,634 144,548 140.064
Sources: Cassini and INSEE



Brest is the seat of the sub-prefecture of the Arrondissement of Brest.

Town twinning

Brest has ten parish partnerships with:

city country Type since
Bejaia AlgeriaAlgeria Algeria Friendship agreement 1995
Cadiz SpainSpain Spain Twin town 1986
Constanța RomaniaRomania Romania Twin town 1993
Denver United StatesUnited States Colorado, United States Twin town 1959
Dún Laoghaire IrelandIreland Ireland Twin town 1984
Kiel GermanyGermany Schleswig-Holstein, Germany Twin town 1964
Plymouth United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom Twin town 1963
Saponé Burkina FasoBurkina Faso Burkina Faso Twin town 1989
Tarent ItalyItaly Italy Twin town 1964
Yokosuka JapanJapan Japan Twin town 1970

Culture and sights

Buildings and museums

See also: List of Monuments historiques in Brest (Finistère)

  • The Brest fortress ( French Château de Brest ) over the mouth of the Penfeld offers a good overview of the roadstead and the naval port . One of the towers houses the Musée de la Marine (a branch of the Musée national de la Marine ) with a collection on the history of the port and the navy.
  • Océanopolis since 1990, an adventure park on oceans with 42 sea water - aquariums of different sizes and an emphasis on flora and fauna of the Brittany coast.
  • Various remains of Vauban's fortifications
  • In a medieval tower, the Tour Tanguy , on the right bank of the Penfeld estuary, there is a small museum with models and historical documents about the appearance of the city of Brest before the Second World War.
  • The Pont de Recouvrance lift bridge from 1954 over the Penfeld.
  • The submarine bunker built by the German occupiers from 1940 to 1944, which provided space for 13 submarines.
  • The Musée des Beaux-Arts has a small collection of European paintings from 16. – 21. Century from.
  • St-Louis Church , originally from the 18th century, rebuilt between 1953 and 1958 after being destroyed in the war.

Regular events

Sailing yacht Moonbeam at the
Brest 2008 Maritime Festival
  • Since 1992, the Fêtes maritimes de Brest has been held every four years in July , an international festival of the sea and sailors ( Brest 92 , Brest 96 , Brest 2000 , Brest 2004 , etc.), including a show of international tall ships. In 2012, 715,000 people attended the event in and on the Rade de Brest .
  • The urban stage Le Quartz is known beyond the borders of the department.
  • The short film festival Festival européen du film court de Brest takes place every autumn .
  • For some years now, the Astropolis Festival has been attracting French and international greats of electronic music to Brest (usually at the beginning of August).
  • Since 1891, Brest has been the turning point of the Paris – Brest – Paris (Brevet) cycle race , which takes place every four years, and the Paris-Brest-Paris (Audax) cycle race , which takes place every five years

Economy and Infrastructure

The port of Brest from the Pointe des Espagnols from

Established businesses

Founded in 1966, SMDO Industries , the world's third largest manufacturer of power generators, has its headquarters in Brest.

Road traffic

Two toll-free motorways connect Brest with Rennes (RN 12) and with Nantes (RN 165). The national route RN 265 creates a connection to the east. A section of this motorway is the bypass of the city.

Rail transport

The Brest train station was built between 1936 and 1937 in Art Deco style and is located on the Paris – Brest railway line . It is served daily by several TGV trains that connect it directly to Paris Gare Montparnasse . The fastest of them make the distance in 3 h 25 m. With the Bretagne à Grande Vitesse project, it is planned to reduce the travel time to 3 h 10 m by 2020.

Public transport

Brest tram

Local transport in Brest is served by a tram line, 14 bus lines and, since 2015, a cable car, the Téléphérique de Brest . There are also 7 dial-a-bus routes to smaller or remote outlying areas of the agglomeration, as well as two special shuttle bus routes to Guipavas Airport and the naval base. The tram line, under construction since 2009, serves a total of 27 stops over 14.3 km. It connects the western and eastern parts of the city and was put into operation with an inauguration ceremony on June 23 and 24, 2012. In this context, the entire bus network of the agglomeration has been redesigned and adapted to the new tram. A second line, which will also connect the train station and the port, is currently being planned.


The port of Brest, which is mainly used as a cargo port, also offers passenger connections to the Crozon Peninsula and the Iroise Islands .

Air traffic

The Brest airport is located on the territory of the municipality Guipavas and denies 45% of passenger traffic in Brittany. A new terminal in the form of a Manta has been in operation since December 2007, increasing the passenger capacity to 1.8 million per year.



In the city is the Brest Arena , a multifunctional arena opened in 2014 with up to 5,500 seats that is regularly used for sporting events and concerts. Among other things, the arena was one of eight venues for the men's handball world championship 2017 in France and in December 2018 it was also one of the venues for the 2018 European handball championship for women .


To 1900

1901 to 1950

From 1951


  • In Brest, which was in ruins after the Second World War, one of the most famous poems by Jacques Prévert , Barbara , is set to music, also as a chanson.


  • Francois Peron: Brest sous l ' occupation . Ouest France, Rennes 1981, ISBN 2-85882-457-6 (French).
  • René Le Bihan et al. a .: Brest, 1940 - 1944 - 1960: l'Occupation, la Liberation, la reconstruction , illustrated book, Edition Ouest-France, Rennes 1994, ISBN 2-73-73-1525-5 (French).
  • Alain Boulaire, René Le Bihan: Brest. Editions Palantines, Plomelin 2004 (first edition as: Brest: un siècle de marine et d'arsenal , Le Télégramme, Brest 2001), ISBN 2-911434-38-2 (French).
  • Lars Hellwinkel: The German naval base Brest 1940-1944 (= small series of publications on military and naval history , volume 16). Winkler, Bochum 2010, ISBN 978-3-89911-103-3 .

Web links

Commons : Brest (France)  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Peter Lieb : Conventional war or Weltanschauung war? Warfare and the fight against partisans in France 1943/44, Oldenbourg Verlag 2007, page 486. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels expressed his disappointment that Ramcke “has so little feeling for immortality” and did not commit suicide. - As a German soldier, the journalist Erich Kuby saw the siege to the end. He wrote the last passage of his literary war diaries about it: Erich Kuby: Mein Krieg. Records from 2129 days. Nymphenburger, Munich, ISBN 3-485-00250-X . Several new editions, including udT Mein Krieg. Records 1939 - 1944. , most recently as a paperback: Structure 1999 ISBN 3-7466-1588-7 .
  2. Jumelages et coopérations - (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on May 31, 2016 ; accessed on May 31, 2016 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ( Memento of the original dated May 6, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Musée national de la Marine, Bres (French / English). Accessed May 14, 2013.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Fêtes maritimes de Brest / Tonnerre de Brest 2016, accessed on January 15, 2016 ( Memento of the original from January 15, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. , French, accessed on June 24, 2012.
  6. ↑ Route network plans , French, accessed on June 25, 2012.